Most people today think of Shakespeare’s plays as the sort of thing that only the refined, intellectual highbrows could appreciate. They forget that Shakespeare was wildly popular with all classes of Elizabethan England. The Elizabethan audiences loved violence and gore as much as any modern audience and Shakespeare was always happy to give the theater goers what they wanted. Sometimes his plays are every bit as gory as anything made by Quentin Tarantino with bloody battles, eyes being gouged out, maidens raped, and worse. Shakespeare’s play Titus Andronicus is really in a class by itself as far as blood and gore on stage goes, as some patrons of the Globe Theater discovered recently, according to this account in the Telegraph.
With 14 deaths, brutal rape scenes, mutilation and cannibalism, Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus has never been one for the fainthearted.But the gruesome scenes at the Globe Theatre’s latest revival have proved too much for even the most daring of theatre-goers.Members of the audience have been fainting during the play’s most violent scenes, with others reporting feeling sick and warning of sleepless nights.The play, a revival of Lucy Bailey’s 2006 production, is publicised with a warning that it is “grotesquely violent and daringly experimental”, with a “terrible cycle of mutilation, rape and murder”.The play’s most famous scene sees Titus murder the sons of his rival Tamora, Queen of the Goths, later feeding their remains to her in a pie. A spokesman for the Globe confirmed five members of the audience fainted in a particularly gory five-minute scene, adding front of house staff are “very well trained to look after people”. It is understood all five fell while watching Lavinia emerge from being brutally raped, with her tongue cut out and holding bloodied stumps for arms. “Shakespeare definitely didn’t pull any punches when he was writing Titus – it is a brutally violent play and Lucy’s production is a bloody, exhilarating, incense-laden feast for the senses,” the spokesman added. “But not one for the squeamish!” One theatre-goer, who watched the show’s opening night, said there had been “quite a few droppers” in the audience, who fainted upon seeing so much blood. Another reported he had “almost puked” by the interval, while a third warned: “You will definitely need a strong stomach”. Others praised the “Brilliantly staged and flawlessly acted” production, but warned of “blood and violence galore”. “Can’t fall asleep after watching a great but gory performance of Titus Andronicus,” one ticket-holder wrote on Twitter. Sources at Shakespeare’s Globe confirmed trained first aiders were present for the show. The theatre is well-versed in fainting audience members, after visitors blanched at the blood and gore in the original 2006 production.
- Audience faints at ‘grotesquely violent’ Shakespeare performance… (telegraph.co.uk)
- Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus proves too much for Globe crowd as audience members faint during ‘grotesquely violent’ scenes (standard.co.uk)
- Shakespeare Play So Gory Audience Members Faint (newser.com)
- There will be (fake) blood: five of the goriest theatrical bloodbaths (theguardian.com)
- Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in pictures (theguardian.com)